Sweet Home Chicago
Into the USA, Crowne Plaza O’Hare (One King Bed Suite Room)
- Well, it’s been a long two years, hasn’t it?
- Testing, Testing, Swab 1-2-3…
- Off to Heathrow (Take the coach they say. It’s fun they say)
- Cathay Pacific T3 lounge, Heathrow Airport
- AA87 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare International (Main Cabin Extra)
- Into the USA, Crown Plaza O’Hare
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Airplane Art from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Fooding around Chicago… Badly
- Starbucks Reserve Rosterary, North Michigan Avenue
- Exploring Chicago with a smartphone
- Back to O’Hare, British Airways Lounge
- BA296 Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow (World Traveller Plus – Premium Economy)
- Welcome back to the UK, or how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
- To the Journey
Into the USA – what changes are there for those who don’t have Global Entry?
With the plane at the gate, it was time to deal with the fun of getting into the USA, which seems to vary every time.
As our plane was parked at the back end of nowhere (Gate M21 at O’Hare Terminal 5), it was a good 15-minute walk from the gate to immigration lines.
Approaching the immigration lines, I was given a US Blue customs form but told not to complete it but to present it to the agent. Weird, but ok.
I could not see any of the Automated Border Clearance machines in place – it seemed at this end of O’Hare, they were clearing passengers manually.
At immigration, the queue was minimal, and I was seen straight away. My passport was examined, and I was questioned about my intentions. With the agent satisfied, my passport was stamped for entry into the country.
From there, I headed to the carousel where bags were beginning to spit out. I had a short wait, but it seemed my bags were in the first few containers, with them appearing quickly.
With bags in hand, I headed to customs, where I handed my form in and waved through.
From Gate to Exit in under 31 minutes, with only minimal taxing O’Hare. What weird flex this is, I do not know – but I’m not arguing to clear Terminal 5 in a minimal amount of time.
I took a few minutes at the terminal decompressing post-flight and contacting people – as well as dodging one scalper trying to get me to ride with them in a taxi.
With that done, I dealt with a cash machine to get some operating capital.
No, I wasn’t happy either, when my USA currency wallet was sitting at home, looking happy for itself.
With cash in hand, I hailed an Uber (let us say I’ve had my fill of Chicago Taxi drivers some years ago with the fun and games they bring), with instructions for them to head to my first crashpad – the Crowne Plaza O’Hare.
The drive was slightly hairy, as other drivers didn’t know where to go (and people wonder why I refuse point-blank to drive on the wrong side of the road, especially after a long flight), but I made it to the hotel safely with the driver (and people wonder why I tend to buckle up in the back of a car too).
Crowne Plaza O’Hare
Price paid: 16k IHG Points+$35 (Redemption).
Editors note: Yes! It’s a new picture of The Crowne Plaza O’Hare – and it’s shot in the daylight. Not a recycled image from 6 years ago. Because I would never do that. Ok, Ok… five years.
I made my way into the hotel, where there was a little bit of a queue to be processed. Eventually, I was seen and greeted.
My booking for the singular night was confirmed and it was on points. I was given a welcome amenity of points (600 points is 600 points at this stage of the game). In addition, I was given an upgrade to a single-bed suite.
Whoa. An upgrade? In this market?
Checking prices a few weeks before, the hotel was coming in at US$133 or so. It seems that demand in the area was a bit soft at the prices the hotel was charging.
An upgrade is an upgrade – so I thanked the check-in staff, and headed to the lifts.
Which sounded ropey as hell. But they got me up to the 6th floor. A short walk from the lifts leads me to my room.
And what a room. Whilst I was welcomed by this property’s duck-egg blue furnishings, the room felt fresh and looked after.
Let’s have a look at the room. We start with a large living room with a sink, fridge and a big sofa, along with a table and conference bar.
Oh yes. This sofa was good to rest and decompress on after a long haul flight. I didn’t honestly move from there for a while.
On the side was a Keruig machine, with several coffee pods – good enough for me when I woke up the next morning (there’s only so much Starbucks I can drink believe it or not)
I moved from the living room to the bedroom – which had a king-sized bed in it. The bed itself was in good condition, with it just the right firmness after a long haul flight – as well as a reasonable bed which is always nice.
The TV itself was big enough, without it dominating the room – which can be a mistake in some hotels.
As for the bathroom, I had the choice of both a shower and a bath – always welcome. The room was stocked with little amenity bottles – whilst I understand these are meant to be on the way out, maybe they’ll be hanging around a little longer due to everything that has happened the past few years.
I settled in and cleared out the backpack as I was planning to head out after a good two hours of sitting doing absolutely nothing.
The hotel offered a shuttle – however, the times were restricted heavily, with the bus operating once per hour as opposed to the usual every 30 minutes.
Thankfully, I met one on my return from the city (and with me not wanting to hike from Rosemont Station to the hotel).
The next day, check out was handled simply – My room number was confirmed and the system checked me out without further charge.
Overall: Not bad at all. It’s always welcome to have an upgrade to give you more living room in a temporary place. Whilst this hotel suffered from some staffing shortages (mainly noted at the front desk and reduced shuttle service – which is clearly down to one bus driver at the moment), it seems the hotel is operating as best it can.
It certainly set a reasonably high standard for this trip. Can the next hotel match it?
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